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David Eigenberg

by Franny French and Rudy Joggerst

Reel: So we're taping this interview. I hope it's okay that you're on speaker phone…

David Eigenberg: Yeah, it's alright…. You guys hooked up to the NSA also?

Reel: No [laughter].

DE: They're recording all this [expletive].

Reel: Now they're recording us too.

DE: Now they are.

Reel: How much input did you have in the creation of your character, Reggie, [in Love, Ludlow]?

DE: The character came out of the writing. It's all a collaborative process, and I believe I bring a certain thing to the character. But the character, for me, comes out of my interpretation of whatever the writer has written. I actually thought for a while there he may be so sheepish he would stutter as he started to lead into sentences…but we rehearsed it that way and it didn't really work out, for either of us. So you find [things] that don't work, and you find things that do work, to put it like that.

Reel: Would you say there are similarities between you and Reggie?

DE: There's a little bit of a two-fold quality in me…. I was born in Long Island; I grew up in the Bronx. [My dad's] an old-school, tough Jew, but I grew up in the Midwest, which was real candy, and so there weren't the rules that my father grew up with…so I had this conflict with my father. Then I moved to New York when I was 20, and I lived there for 21 years, and then, I lived more in the backstreets of New York City, and, so, there are certain parts of me that are similar to Reggie in the Midwest part of me, but I don't fully subscribe to that part of me anymore.

Reel: So now you're more like the Jewish Mafia type, or whatever?

DE: [Laughs] I bought that book for my father, the book Tough Jews

Reel: Yeah I was just reading about that….

DE: C'mon, that was such a nightmare for my family. My father's 82 and he got Alzheimer's. He read that about four or five years ago—I sent it to him—and he was like, "That's who I am; I'm a tough Jew." And whenever he'd get in a fight with my mother, he'd be like, "You don't understand, I'm a tough Jew," and my mother's like, "Why'd you buy that [expletive] book?"

Reel: I was a big fan of yours with Sex and the City. In that, you play such a nice guy, and in Love, Ludlow you play such a nice guy. Do you ever want to play a real [expletive]? Have you done that? Would you like to do that?

DE: Yeah, I actually did a really bad movie where I played a real [expletive], Driftwood. I'm a sadistic prison guard at a teenage boot camp—you know, where they send the rich kids—and I end up a ghost [and they] cover me [with] maggots and some [expletive]...

Reel: That sounds good…

DE: But, yeah, Reggie was definitely really nice, and, you know, it's a strange process, because when I first read it, what I felt was the most interesting thing of that film for me was just my feeling…and then getting to know Dave Patterson [writer/producer of Love, Ludlow]…he is also a split character in his own life…and what I really felt the story was about was actually that Ludlow and Reggie were the same person, and they were caught in the conflict of the guy who was trying to do the right thing and the guy who wants to be mothered and nurtured and babied for the rest of his life. So they're really two characters in pursuit of this other character, Myra.

Reel: So there's kind of the id and the ego…?

DE: For me, yeah. I think my favorite character in the movie…is Myra, and her climax occurs in the graveyard, at the grave of her mother. And there's also a famous quote—I don't know who said it; it's an Italian quote—it says, "Language begins at the grave of the mother." I didn't even think of that association until just now, but her character is a fully rounded character, and at the end of the movie, when they meet in the laundry and he's there and he's kind of bantering in, and they walk down the street together as a threesome and then they get to the house and they have this kind of banter-y…like, they're okay with each other, begrudgingly. That's where those two characters come together and become a whole person. Is that esoteric enough for you?

Reel: Sure, yeah [laughs]. So…you didn't know each other beforehand? You had such good chemistry, you and Alicia?

DE: No, no I didn't, I know any of them. I knew Brendan's work, and I knew Alicia's work a little bit, but me and Alicia both identified with each other very quickly because we were both on the quieter side of fame on famous shows, her being on Roseanne, and dealing with the tempest of Roseanne, and also me…. It's not the tempest of the women [on Sex and the City, [but] they were certainly a force of nature, all four of the women, and that was just the nature of the show, as with Roseanne. So you're with these incredibly strong characters and you're there but you're removed, to a certain extent. So we identified with each other from our positions in showbiz and entertainment. We just clicked immediately. I really think the world of Alicia, and also Brendan. I was familiar with his work in Welcome to the Dollhouse. When I heard [about Love, Ludlow…I had two questions: one was "Who's going to play Ludlow?" and they said, "Brendan," and I went, "Perfect." And I said, "I want to know if you've done your storyboards," which the director said she had, but I never saw them when we shot.

Reel: Can you talk a little bit about the differences between shooting a low-budget independent film and costarring in HBO's Sex and the City?

DE: They're very different beasts. For me, I'm highly adaptable, and everybody in the cast was, we've all been through the ringer in life—none of us came from Easy Street, so the rest of our lives applied to it. It was…real ultra-low budget. It was incredibly hard hours. A lot of the interiors for the apartments were shot in the cellar of this church, and it was phenomenally hot, and it was a real mess for quite a while. But, you know, the great thing is that the actors, all of us being professionals, maintained integrity and there were no meltdowns. We all were focused enough to know where we're going.

Reel: When [Love, Ludlow] played at Sundance last year, and had extensive runs at film festivals all around the world, were you involved in the promotion of the film at all?

DE: Well, when they went to Sundance, I was actually out here in Burbank. I was shooting a contract and, literally, Sundance was the weekend we were in rehearsal. We shot the pilot on the Monday or the Tuesday after Sundance, so there was really no way I was going to go to Sundance. Secondly, I can't stand Sundance. I think it's a puke-fest. Not that good films aren't there; I'm just talking about the whole—

Reel: The scene…

DE: The scene is really disturbing to me. It's like…. I don't know, maybe I'm talking out of school here, maybe you guys love Sundance.

Reel: We've never been. Our coworkers are there.

DE: No. I think people should go. But, me personally, it's a waste of my time. I mean, had I not been working, uh, would I have gone? I don't know. I went to a small film festival out here, Calabasas; I've done any press they've asked me to do, but going to film festivals where there's this whole, like, look-at-me thing….

Reel: Yeah. Do you think Sundance kind of lost its independent spirit?

DE: Well, it's not even that. It's a PR event. And it is about the distribution of independent film, and it's a great market for people to show their stuff, but it's also become this glitzy thing. It's like this thing about "Look at me" and "Aren't I cool and hip" and "I got a stupid [expletive] beard or dumb hat on my head, and I'm talkin' a lot of [expletive]." And a lot of people don't know…they don't know dick, you know. They haven't been around-some of them. So, it's kind of like…to see a 22-year-old…he may have made a great film, but I go from the adage "Everyone has a story in them"; the question is, how many stories do you have? And some people have one great story. And that's a great thing, you know. But, like, acting like they're the second coming? And the whole media plays into that. The PR people play into that, the studio people play into that and the producers play into it. And the writers and directors and actors all buy into it, because we've all got fragile egos. And I have a very fragile ego, but I'm not going to sublimate it with that kind of crap. How's that?

Reel: Nicely done.

DE: Do I sound like a bitter actor?

Reel: No, you don't, actually. You sound mature—not old; mature.

DE: Yeah, I just don't go for it. It's, like, that year, Paris Hilton was a story there. It's, like, what the [expletive] is Paris Hilton doing there? You know? And then she's getting press. Why? I don't understand. It makes no sense to me.

Reel: I totally agree. It's about the product, I guess.

DE: It's become a scene. That's all. There's nothing wrong with it. Redford set out to do a great thing. They do do great stuff there, it's just laced with this, you know, with all these, like, barbiturates, you know, and all this, like, heroin, you know-I mean that figuratively. It's, like, you can have a good time without, you know, [expletive] whacking yourself out on [expletive] crystal meth. It's a big crystal meth dope scene. Figuratively.

 




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